Welcome to Journey To Russia

This site is here to chronical the epic journey Matthew, Patrick and Stace are currently doing to Russia and back. 3 blokes, 3 bikes, 3 Weeks.

You can use this site to help plan your own journey (Country Information) or to keep tabs on how we're doing with our journey. You can also watch the exclusive JTR Review Show, or keep up to date with our latest ventures in the news.

So the time is nearly here. We leave a week Saturday from Hatfield – in fact we’re having a bit of a party and you’re all invited.

Details over on the facebook event page.

We’re going to meet at around 3pm, and party until we leave at 7pm – there’s a band booked to play and there’ll be shed loads of burgers, rolls, and importantly jelly (it’s not a party without jelly).

In other news:

We’re going to be ‘livecasting’ every night at 7pm BST – right here on this site – you’ll be able to watch a live two minute TV show from where-ever we are on the road – all thanks to the magic of my Nokia N95 and a new service called Qik. If you miss the show, don’t worry the last one will be available all the time right here on the front page.

Five Live LogoAnd in exciting BBC News – you’re going to be able to keep up to date with our movements via Up All Night on Five Live – how cool is that?

We’re on-air early morning of Saturday 30th September before we leave, then again on the phone on Monday 2nd September (again early morning), Saturday 6th September (early morning), Saturday 12th September (early morning) and finally on Sunday 21st when we come back.

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TravelDri-Plus

It’s fair to say we may have been a little obsessed with our kit. The problem was of course, that we were delayed by a year – and there’s only so much time you can take up obsessing over visas and injections – so kit seemed a harmless hobby.

I’ve lost count of the tents we’ve tested, taken on the road and now finally, regretfully in some cases, rejected. This weekend we headed down to see Les from Traveldri-Plus – the mecca for anyone kitting themselves out with kit that will last more than one festival (Blacks – sorry guys you don’t hold a torch to this guy).

This is our second trip to Devon, and once again, for a chap who is running a business, we were blown away by our welcome (thanks for the sandwiches and tea!) and by his amazing depth of knowledge about this stuff.

I’ll take some more time tomorrow to write up what kit we actually bought and what the final tent arrangements are, but this photo may give you an idea until then ;-)

Three in a row

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A new Podcast Update has been left by Matthew Click here to listen to it in Quick Time.

Or use this player to listen:

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A new Podcast Update has been left by Matthew Click here to listen to it in Quick Time.

Or use this player to listen:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you want to automatically receive the podcast updates in your podcast software follow the instructions on the Podcast page.

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As many of you know, on this trip we’re raising money for Everyman – the male cancer charity – look up in the top right hand corner and you can do your bit too ;-)

Anyway, great news from them today – they think they’ve found a new drug that will combat prostate cancer – this is your money and your support that’s making this possible – BBC News Story about new Prostate Cancer drug.

As we get closer to the off, and as we’re getting the party together – I just wanted to say that if you are coming to the party and are thinking about bringing a bottle… consider giving that money to Everyman instead… we’re very close to the £1000 mark and it would be great to tip it over the edge before we go.

Finally I’d like to leave you with a short video.

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I’ve had the Eee PC (701) now for a few months and have been using it as my primary machine whilst away and my secondary machine at home.

I must admit I’ve had a few issues with it. I’ve had to return it to factory defaults (keep hitting F9 at start up) about 5 times, all down to the fact that I got irritated by the basic set up and tried to install new and wonderful applications and advanced user interfaces. Fortunately all my files and documents are kept on the 8gb SD card slapped in the side, so I didn’t lose anything, but the re-install and then update of the system takes an hour or two – it can quite happily be done on the road – but if you want the updates you need a pretty hefty Internet Connection. I did manage to do it in Starbucks whilst away but it cost me about 20 GBP in coffee to sit there for two hours!

This has actually given me confidence in the kit, unlike most other laptop software setups, if it dies, you can just hammer F9 until it takes it back to the simple set up it came with out of the box – and to be frank – that’s enough to email, blog, skype, sort out my photos etc.

However, there is no way this machine can be used as your primary set up, I’ve had no luck sourcing a decent / simple video editor that has worked consistently, at least, no editor that can pull the DV files off my camcorder as they’re downloaded and then allow me to edit them (using MiniDV). You can combine about three bits of software to do this, but none of them are very good and you will end up getting very frustrated. The simple solution to this is to install Ubuntu and run a better application – combine this with buying a new SD based camcorder and you’d be laughing – of course – you’d need a little bigger internal memory too – the 4gb is quite limiting – even if you are just using it for the system and no actual file storage.

I’ve now had a good play with the new 900 units with a 20gb internal drive – much easier to install new apps and OS – the screen is much better, and it’s just more flexible all round. But at over 350gbp it’s into the territory of other probably better ultra light laptops, and frankly, whilst I can almost afford to lose 200gbp if the asus doesn’t stand up to the journey – 350gbp is somehow, more difficult.

If you accept it’s limitations in order to have a fantastically small, light, bomb proof machine; it’s worth it’s weight in gold. If you desperately need video editing, or advanced photo editing, it’s probably not for you, and perhaps you should have a look at the myriad of new ultra portables (for a little more cash) coming out of everyone from Apple to Dell.

There’s a good round up of the products available over at CNET

it’s a little out of date now and there are many more on the market – but it’s a good place to start.

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Posted by ShoZu

Uploaded from South Wales, where I discovered that a simple rip stop nylon poncho packs up smaller than the army issue job, and even fits me!

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PocketComms Fanned out with pouchNo speaky….

Not a video review this time, unusual for us I know, however I’ve just got hold of a really nice piece of kit that may well prove more valuable than mine and Matt’s (failed) Russian language (Svetlana please forgive us….) course we had planned to do for the trip – I finished having trouble speaking English let alone Russian.

It was a gift ‘to help you on your trip’ said the voice. It was a small pouch with a belt loop – a bit like an ammo pouch. Guns – I hope not? I dread to think where they think we’re going. Anyway looking at the pouch I wondered what it contained fearing the worst but I was pleasantly surprised…

It contained a small book, hinged in one corner. Between the covers were a number of pages of plastic paper featuring lots of little cartoon pictures of everyday and not so everyday things and events. It’s called a Pocket Comms book and the neat little hinge allows the pages to be fanned out to see many pictures at once. It’s been developed by an ex-army intelligence guy who came up with the idea whilst overseas and is based on pictures he used to use when communicating with locals. This developed into the book. Each page is double sided and the book contains hundreds of little cartoon drawings covering any number of situations that you might want to talk to someone about but would find it hard to because you both didn’t speak the same language. All the cartoons are grouped according into categories and each page edge is colour coded so red is used for emergency situations and so on. It’s a really clever idea and at about £8 for the basic book well worth the money. Looking at the website The Police have run a trial using it and there’s even a special Military spec one for the boys and girls overseas.

I’ve spent the morning thinking about things I might want to say and so far I’ve not found anything that I can’t use this book to say for me and I’m not a person of few words so I’m pretty impressed. There are similar things out there that have been more widely used and some of them are free, however in my opinion this really is a gem for the price, size and ease of use – yes you can print a pdf but to make is any good you’ll have to laminate it and all that takes time so why not just get one done for you? Of course the real test is taking it to Russia – although certain aspects of ‘youth culture’ means it may come in handy closer to home. However I think it will serve the 3 of us well on the trip and I’ll report on it’s usefulness upon our return.

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As we get nearer to the off more people have been asking us how they can keep up to date with what we’re doing. Obviously the simplest way is to come here or subscribe to the RSS feed – or perhaps even subscribe to the videos – but as we’re out on the road we’ll be taking shed loads of photos – and that’s one of the best ways to see what we’re up to (‘see’ what I did there!?).

You can see our photos as they’re uploaded right on flickr over at http://www.flickr.com/photos/journeytorussia/ – where you can comment on them and leave us little notes of encouragement – like this one. In order to do that you’ll need to sign up to flickr – and if you want our photos to appear on your flickr homepage then you’ll need to add us as a contact.

The easiest way to keep up to date with the photos on the road is to simply add the RSS stream to your feed reader.

We promise to upload all photos and not censor any at all…. well maybe some… we don’t want people having nightmares….

Dartmoor or Bust

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As I couldn’t go camping with Mrs Cashmore this weekend – I decided to take advantage of the hideous weather to give the swag a good wet test.

First of all I wanted to play around with configurations to keep as much of the water off the bag as possible – that resulted in this set up:

Bottom of swag under basha

A simple rip-stop nylon basha combined with a ground sheet and a couple of poles. A simple solution that for about six hours in moderate winds kept 99% of the rain off the canvas.

However, I then left the swag, and having not tied the ropes down properly, the basha came lose and exposed the swag to the full fury of a coastal South Wales storm. Got up this morning to a small water problem. I’ve called this the second ‘test’, when in fact it was my stupidity forcing one.

Good stuff wet canvas

The canvas inside was dry, as was my sleeping bag and mat. I got in and gave the canvas a good prodding. Nothing got through. Must admit I was surprised and very impressed.

I then rolled the swag up, and left it in the back of the car for about six hours for the journey home. Just unrolled it and the water has started to seep inside. Not a great result, but proof if I needed it that I have to ensure that the bag just doesn’t get this wet – either by avoiding camping in the worst weather on the road – or by ensuring I get the basha set up properly and securely.

On a more successful note…. the poncho works!

Matt in Poncho

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